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Strange title, you may be thinking…

With last Sunday being Mother’s Day, it made me stop and think about all of the women along my path who have inspired me one way or another in my own “hero’s journey” of life. Just as in the classic progression, the hero meets his/her mentor at some point, who guides, teaches, gives advice and wisdom. This enables the hero to have the skills or “tools” he or she needs to face the trials that occur on the rest of the journey.

In my own life, I have often found myself being powerfully drawn to certain female characters in movies, comics, TV shows and other media. I never really thought about what made me gravitate to these females, but I’ve started to realize that there is something about the essence of each one that has inspired me in some way.

What’s interesting to me about all of this is that I’ve never really had a lot of “girlfriends.” As the youngest of five, I had three older brothers (my sister being 18 years my senior). In general, I’ve just always felt more comfortable talking to males, being friends with guys, etc. Girls always intimidated me. Even today, I have VERY few women I would actually call my “friends.” So, why this focus on females in the media?

I’ve decided to metaphorically lay on the psychologist’s couch and see what’s helped make me tick all these years.

1. Princess Leia – Didn’t see that one coming, eh?! Seriously, I really do think she was my first woman role model. I was introduced to this spunky princess at the tender age of 7, and at the time I was feeling very awkward about myself. I remember feeling as though I always had a knot in my stomach. My brother constantly picked on me (as brothers do), and I never felt very confident. Leia helped give me that. Whenever I got into situations where I started feeling nervous, I would literally stop, take a deep breath and ask myself “what would Leia do?” It got me through a lot.

leia

2. Wonder Woman – This breathtaking Amazon princess sure could kick some major butt! I can recall being so excited to see what sort of adventures she would have from week to week on the CBS TV series. Interestingly enough, the series aired from 1975-1979; pretty much the same time frame as when Leia came into my life. Diana Prince was not only strong in her powerful physical abilities, but she was also compassionate and empathetic. I admired her for her beauty, strength and character. I used to get into so much trouble because I would put on my Wonder Woman Underoos and my red rain boots, then proceed to go outside to play. Mom didn’t like me outside in my underwear, but I persisted to go out there and spin around, pretending to become that warrior princess and fight the evils of the world!

Wonder woman

red_bootsunderoos

3. Laura Ingalls Wilder – I really believe this is who inspired me to become a teacher. I read every book in her “Little House” series several times over, and also enjoyed the TV show “Little House on the Prairie,” which aired from 1974-1982. It just always seemed to me that Laura had a quiet, yet powerful integrity about her. She was an upstanding member and contributor to her community, but she had ferocity for protecting her family. She could change from lamb to lion in a heartbeat if need be.

MelissaGilbert1

4. Laura Holt – The “Remington Steele” TV show aired from 1982-1987. Laura was a female private detective, but had to hire “Remington Steele”, a former thief to be the face of her business. As a female, Laura just wasn’t getting the respect and recognition she deserved for being so intelligent and cunning, so Steele accompanied her on all of her assignments, acting as though HE were the one to solve the crime. Although sometimes it made me angry that he was getting all the credit, it made me realize that you could contribute to something greater than yourself without having to be the one in the limelight. I feel as though I do that as a mom, wife, teacher and adviser of a community-based leadership organization at the high school where I teach. Thanks, Laura!

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5. Mary Lou Retton – Wow. Who WASN’T mesmerized by this tiny little powerhouse in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games? To me, Mary Lou epitomized grace and power; flexibility and strength. I always wanted to be a gymnast, but circumstances growing up just didn’t allow for that to happen. I did end up becoming a cheerleader, and absolutely loved it. Mary Lou also taught me about being proud of my body. I was short (still am), and had the typical body issues of every 14-year-old girl. I hated my legs, especially. Always thought they were fat. What Mary Lou made me realize is that they were STRONG. I liked being what was called a “flyer” on the mounds in cheerleading, but I was best at being a base. I was strong and stable. I could hold the weight of others and be the better for it. Still can…

mary lou

Fast- forward.

More recently in my life, I have been drawn to three females in particular:

1. Tahiri Veila: “I know something about pain you don’t. Pain drowns other people. I just swim in it.”
Born to moisture farmers, raised by Tusken Raiders, tortured and remade by the Yuzhaan Vong. Jedi Knight…Sith Apprentice…redeemed by the Force. This girl has been through it all. I think I’m drawn to Tahiri because she’s been through so many trials and tribulations in her life, and although she wears visible scars on her head, she also wears them in her heart. Nevertheless, she is strong, and she is determined to protect those that she loves.

Tahiri_Veila_Portrait

2. Alice Cullen: The Twilight Saga is second only to Star Wars in my heart. Haters just keep hatin’. Before becoming a vampire, Alice was a simple girl with an amazing gift of being able to have premonitions about the future. She was put into an insane asylum and forgotten, only to be turned into a vampire who could actually see the future. I’m not exactly sure why I’m drawn to Alice. Maybe it’s her amazing pitching arm? Maybe it’s her unwavering commitment to those she loves. Maybe its her spunkiness or fashion sense? Her ability to kick butt? I just love Alice. After seeing the first Twilight movie, I even got my hair cut like hers for the first and only time in many, many years.

alicecullen

3. Natasha Rominoff (Rominova), AKA Black Widow– Yes, another buttkicker in a seemingly long line of buttkickers here. My first introduction to her was in the movies, but I started reading and collecting the comics very soon after the second Iron Man was released. Her character is absolutely captivating. Orphaned after her parents were killed in a fire, she was “adopted”, brainwashed and trained by Soviet Intelligence to become a secret agent. Natasha was a ballerina to cover her true identity. I could go on and on about her biography, but what I find so interesting about her is that, despite the fact that she is a stone-cold assassin, she also has that undeniable…heart.

the_avengers_black_widow

So, let’s re-cap:

Strong
Loyal
Ethical
Spunky
Honorable
Intelligent
Fierce
Guarded
Comapassionate
Fighter

This.

Is.

Me.

 

As always, I am encouraged to hear from YOU. Who has been YOUR inspiration, male or female? Why? I would love to hear your stories. Give me your reply here, or email me at jayk@coffeewithkenobi.com

May the Force Be With You

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21 Comments

  1. Erica
    May 18, 2014 at 06:56 Reply

    Loved this! It’s really making me think about the women role models in my life. I too wore my wonder woman underoos outside. My mom had a picture of me– unfortunately I could only find one red boot, but that didn’t hinder my super hero impersonation on the swing set one bit!

    I am curious about your draw to Alice. And something that came to mind as a parallel between the two of you that I see is her sense of style. It really is an artistic and creative expression of her character, and I think that that is strong in you too. I’ve always been impressed by your visual sense and your fashion sense. just thought I would toss that out there!

    in my own life as a youngling, a film character that I was really drawn to was belle from disney’s beauty and the beast. With her I finally found a girl who was as in love with stories and books as I was. later, in my twenties when the prequel trilogy came along, the surprise for me identifying so strongly with a male character, Anakin.

    thanks again for a fun post!

    1. Jay Krebs
      May 22, 2014 at 21:24 Reply

      Ooh, I would love to see that picture!

      It’s so ironic that you would mention a swing set – I had a swingset that was one of those cheapie aluminum-types. You know, the kind that, when you would swing, one corner would lift out of the ground about 6″?! Anyway, I used the top bar – sans swings – as my gymnastics bar (Mary Lou Retton Days). I would put a single picnic bench behind it, and proceed to jump from it to the bar. As I got braver I would move the bench back, and back, and back! I remember face-planting once or twice doing that!

      Loooooove Belle! You’re so right about her. In addition to her love of stories and book reading, she is witty and brave to boot. Great combination!

      Anakin…and that’s why we still call you Anakinside1 😉

      Thanks for the observations about Alice – I truly appreciate the compliment!

  2. Rebecca Benjamin
    May 18, 2014 at 18:52 Reply

    This.
    Is.
    Me.
    Love it! Love you 🙂

    It’s so refreshing to read an article that has you nodding along to each sentiment addressed by the writer, as if the writer knows exactly how the reader feels inside. Amazing!
    You touched my heart and soul with this one. As you recounted your childhood idols and how they reached you on such a personal level,

    1. Rebecca Benjamin
      May 18, 2014 at 19:04 Reply

      (cont.) I welled up in tears. What strikes me, is how different yet, how similar two people can actually be.

      Like you, Leia was the first princess I was introduced to and I was about 4yrs.old. Not your typical princess, but strong. Today’s generation of young women is missing out, seriously. Hopefully SW will rectify that in sequels.

      Out of all the women you mentioned, I’m in alliance on 5. Heck, I was wonder woman for Halloween at age 5! My mom made my costume from mostly felt and it was the coolest thing I think I have ever worn. I believe she has that picture posted on her facebook lol!

      As for the Twilight Saga, my all time favorite is Alice too! Can’t explain what it is that draws me to her exactly, but I find her completely captivating on all levels. She has such a sweet disposition, yet she’s so witty and agile….just adore her.

      Wonderful entry my dear friend, so touching and from your heart. Well done! xo
      Happy belated Mother’s Day to you 🙂

      1. Jay Krebs
        May 22, 2014 at 21:26 Reply

        I’m sincerely very happy to hear that this entry touched you so deeply! Likeyou said, it was from the heart. If my readers respond and share in kind, that’s great…I was just inspired to write this entry for some reason!

  3. The Wookiee Gunner
    May 18, 2014 at 21:08 Reply

    What a great list of role models! I definitely had a few growing up. Though, mine include animated characters! I was a big fan of Gadget from Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers. I really loved Audrey Ramirez from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Elisa Maza from Gargoyles. Selena Quintanilla, the singer. Samantha Carter from Stargate SG-1. I’d love to create my own list! Thanks for sharing! 😀

    1. Jay Krebs
      May 22, 2014 at 21:28 Reply

      Thanks so much for your reply!
      I am intrigued by what inspires us and what makes us who we are. I’m glad you were able to do some “soul searching” of your own as a result of this entry! 🙂

  4. Aaron Harris
    May 18, 2014 at 22:32 Reply

    WOW! Jay, incredible! Though I’m a guy, I am a father of a little girl. How she perceives herself, her surroundings, others and inspiring her to grow and be shaped into a great woman is for most on my mind. I have always focused on the negative influences that are out there that could drive her from her path, not taking a moment to see the good ones who can help influence her in ways as a man I never will be able too. Thank you for being open and honest and writing such a great blog. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Melinda
      May 21, 2014 at 10:10 Reply

      Aaron, I hope you don’t mind my throwing my 2 cents in. I don’t want to play down the importance of pointing out to your little girl what NOT to be, what NOT to accept, what is NOT a good path to follow. However, it is important to pose your thoughts and ideas and encouragements in a POSITIVE way. You don’t want her to grow up with a negative mindset, do you? “Always with you what cannot be done,” Yoda admonished Luke. That can be stretched to include EVERYTHING. Lead with the positive. 🙂
      I have a sister who tends to look at life through “negative-facing glasses”. She has passed that on to her children. It’s rather sad.
      With 2 girls of my own, it always was more important to impress upon them what COULD be done. Not to ignore the problems they could face, instead it is possible and probable to overcome them. Their dad — the only male in the family 😉 — reinforced that lesson. Over and over again. That has spurred our girls to go after their dreams — in male-dominated fields, as it turns out. 🙂 I am so proud of them. For everything!

      Enjoy your years with your lovely little girl! They go by in the blink of an eye! And always remember the profound, deep-rooted impact you — her loving dad — will have on her life. 🙂 MTFBWY 🙂

    2. Jay Krebs
      May 22, 2014 at 21:33 Reply

      Thanks, Aaron! 🙂
      It’s great that you are aware of what your little girl is thinking, feeling and experiencing. That empathy will surely serve to strengthen your relationship as she grows into a young woman (all to soon…trust me!). Sounds like she’s a very lucky gal to have you as her Daddy! 😉

      If I can give you just one piece of advice without being overbearing…Always remember not to be afraid to tell her what YOU would do/act, or how YOU would feel in a given situation. As a man, you can innately tell her things that even her Mom cannot. That’s one thing I wish my Dad would’ve done more. He left all “the talks” to my Mom, but it would’ve been great to have his point of view -a “guy’s take” – on many issues I was dealing with.

  5. pambruchwalski
    May 19, 2014 at 20:00 Reply

    I will definitely have more to say, but while I have a moment… I, too, am most inspired by my closest and rarest friends, those remarkable women in my life who accomplish so much (look in the mirror, please…I’ll wait…) 🙂

    I had a professor this past semester who truly inspired me. Wish I could talk her into that mentor role.

    Fictional characters…hmmmm. As I said, I’ll have to think about this one, but the ones who immediately pop into my head are Jaime Sommers. You know…the Bionic Woman…better, stronger, faster, and all that. As an adult, I LOVE the characters of Skeeter and Aibilene in The Help, two women who find their talents to write when their lives connect. I agree with Erica on Anakin…

    Have to think some more. What a great subject, Jay!! xoxoxo

    1. Jay Krebs
      May 22, 2014 at 21:35 Reply

      You always know how to make me feel cherished, my dear! 🙂

      I’m so happy that you mentioned Jamie Sommers. I forgot about her! Not that I would have picked her for my personal list, but she was certainly one heck of a gal, to be sure!

  6. Melinda
    May 21, 2014 at 09:10 Reply

    This was a fantastic read! 🙂 Loved every word. No, I’m not surprised that Leia was ranked in your list. 😉 I would have been surprised had she not been. lol I know you didn’t mention her — and I am not suggesting that you should have — but I am curious to hear what you have to say about Padme (just drawing on another female character here). Do you find her a strong character/role model? Sadly, by the 3d film, she is relegated to a minor role (unlike Leia in ROTJ), but ROTS really was “Anakin’s film”.

    You listed some incredible female characters. Interesting that many of them harken to the 1970s/1980s era. I know that’s when you were growing up, more in your formative years, but it was a time, too, when the country was going through a cultural upheaval where women and their roles were concerned. Not that all the “battles” of the ’70s and ’80s have been won/issues resolved, but the influx of women into the work force, redefining their roles in society was newer, not quite in the normal mindset just yet. Even by 1989, when I joined the USMC, women were not totally accepted in every field (and this after being a sports writer for a number of years!). Here I was, joining the smallest branch of the military — that had, understandably, the smallest contingent of female personnel — and I chose to (yes, I could do that at the time) be part of a very male-dominated field in the Marine Corps. (Most female personnel were assigned either to office positions, kitchen crew or some job that was not associated in any way with any facet of what could be a fighting force. Remember, this was the 1980s.)

    more…

  7. Melinda
    May 21, 2014 at 09:33 Reply

    … when do I not have more to say? lol 😉

    When I read that one of your role models was (is) Black Widow, my first reaction was: “Whoa! Jay likes — really likes — a villain?” Then, I had to pause, and remind myself, “Why not?” I immediately thought of how — week after week — Tom and I root for Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings of the cable television series, “The Americans”. The married couple are Russian spies who pose as Americans, and whose main job is to wreak havoc — by any means necessary (although, admittedly, they’d rather not have to kill anyone; that is obvious in their demeanor) — on American soil. “It feels odd to root for ‘the bad guys’,” we find ourselves remarking from time to time. Please don’t get me wrong! It isn’t like we watch the popular show, and hope something adverse happens to the U.S. That isn’t what the series is about. Not at all. I really like Elizabeth, though. She’s a wife and mother who is very loyal to her home country, and like you’ve said about each of the characters in your list — she has a heart, has a conscience, loves her family and wants to protect it, and genuinely cares about others (not only Russians living in the U.S.). While I like Phillip’s character, it really is Elizabeth’s that is more complex. Women really have a depth to them, and I like the fact that that is examined more and more in film and on television.

    My own favorite character — not only in Star Wars; he transcends all characters and all genres — is … drum roll, please 😉 … Luke Skywalker. (I bet you didn’t see that coming! 😉 lol) As far as favorite female characters are concerned, I have to say Leia ranks right up there at the top. But, yes, my very favorite character is male. I was a tomboy growing up, retain a part of that element in my present-day character traits, and I was drawn to Luke and his journey. Even in the EU, I find myself especially drawn to Luke’s character, and what he has gone through. 🙂

    more…

    1. pambruchwalski
      May 21, 2014 at 20:44 Reply

      Black Widow’s not a villain!!!! After a traumatic childhood, she’s just using her formidable skills to try to find her place in the world!!

      More soon…

      1. Melinda
        May 21, 2014 at 22:34 Reply

        Sorry, Pam. I made an assumption I should not have. Based on Jay’s description (of her being a Soviet secret agent), I jumped the gun, and saw her as an enemy. My goof.

        I have no first-hand knowledge of the character, and should not have drawn the conclusion I drew. 😉

  8. Melinda
    May 21, 2014 at 09:41 Reply

    … When I watch or film or television show, I don’t choose my favorite characters based on their sex. It is who s/he is based on character traits. I don’t even think about the character’s sex. If it’s a well-written character, I think my brain accepts the fact that the character could be female or male. It really doesn’t matter. 🙂

    The one element that bothers me — to no end! — is when a (relatively) major female character, especially one in an action film, is relegated to cowering in the corner while her male counterpart “saves the day”. That can ruin a film for me (although with older films, I try to accept the mindset of the era in which the film was made; that doesn’t always take the edge off, but it helps.). I don’t know a single female who would do anything like that when another person’s life is in peril, especially if the “villain” has gotten the upper hand! Not even the most diminutive of my female friends! Do you?

    Sorry. I have gone afield of your blog’s theme! 😉

    more…

  9. Melinda
    May 21, 2014 at 09:57 Reply

    … If I haven’t gone afield far enough, how’s this — as I’ve been sitting here, spouting my thoughts and impressions in reply to your writing, I started thinking about the fact that — rarely — does anyone ever choose a comic as one’s hero/ine. Except another comic, that is. (That select group of individuals is rather small.) Making others laugh truly is quite a remarkable gift (laughter has so many benefits!), and it surprises me that more of us don’t name comedians/comediennes in our list of heroes. This was just a thought that popped into my mind, and I thought I’d share it. 😉

    You really got me thinking this morning, Jay! Thank you! Like I said — this was a great blog! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on an incredible subject! 🙂

    I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day. 🙂

    MTFBWY 🙂

    p.s. I love your blog photo! 😀 Perfect! Like you! 🙂

    1. Jay Krebs
      May 22, 2014 at 21:44 Reply

      You have given me much to ponder, Melinda dear! 🙂
      As it is waaaay past my bedtime right now, I will comment very quickly for now, but I promise to give this more attention very soon…

      First off, thank you SO much for your kind words. I’m glad to see that you’re back in business here in the blogosphere once again!

      Padme…I guess I see her as a role model in some ways. After all, she was brave, selfless, compassionate…all the things a “role model” should be. I waver on her character. Sometimes it depends what kind of mood I’m in. I’ll be honest – there are some things about her character that I feel are somewhat inconsistent. But I’ll save that for another day…

      Pam beat me to the comment about Black Widow! If you knew her like I know her (lol), you would see why I love her so. She’s truly NOT a villian at heart. She’s a victim of circumstance trying to make the best of a series of deceitful entities in her life. Have you seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet? Her character really comes through in that movie.

      More soon!!

  10. Lisa
    May 27, 2014 at 12:16 Reply

    Not really having any female role models (my Mom aside, of course), I’m not sure I have much to contribute. I watched both Wonder and Bionic Women while growing up… I’ve always been a fan of Princess Leia… I spent years enjoying the exploits of Xena and I really like Dana Scully. Buffy kicked butt and Black Widow is cool…. but I’m always drawn to male characters. I suppose I find them more relatable? I don’t know. I’m female, for sure… I know – I just double checked!

    Women are great and all, but I seem to find something… more… in their male counterparts. Weird, huh? I suppose that’s why one of my favorite quotes is “I am not strange, I am just not normal.” (Salvador Dali) 😉

    I’ve never really been ‘one of the girls,’ so that might have something to do with it.

    Anyhoo – Here are ten male characters I look up to – or identify with – for varied reasons I won’t get into in this limited space:

    Luke Skywalker
    The Doctor
    Samwise Gamgee
    Steve Rogers/Captain America
    Harry Potter
    Fox Mulder (The X-Files)
    Dean Winchester (Supernatural)
    John Crichton (Farscape)
    Joxer the Mighty (Xena: Warrior Princess)
    Hercules (as played by Kevin Sorbo)

    1. Jay Krebs
      June 3, 2014 at 13:49 Reply

      Sorry it took me SO long to get back to you, Lisa. Always enjoy your thoughts!

      It’s not weird at all that you find men more relatable. it’s interesting that you said you’ve never been “one of the girls,” per se, so that’s maybe the resaon you’re more drawn to the male characters. I totally get that. For me, I always found other girls to be really intimidating (on the whole), so I think that’s why I chose these female role-models to cling to…they filled in “gaps” in my own personality and made me more empowered to do certain things. Does that make sense?!

      Love your list. Of course, you know we share a fandom of Mr. Rogers (and I don’t mean from the neigborhood lol!). So, now I know where your pup got his name! I never watched Xena, so I sould never have made that connection otherwise. Glad I know now! 🙂

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